This project, Trees to Offset Stormwater, is a study of Auburn, Alabama’s tree canopy and its role in taking up, storing and releasing water. This study was undertaken to assist Auburn in evaluating how to better integrate trees into their stormwater management programs. More specifically, the study covers the role that trees play in stormwater management and shows how the city can benefit from tree conservation and replanting. It also evaluates ways for the city to improve forest management as the city grows.
The project was spurred by the on-going decline in forest cover throughout the southern United States. Causes for this decline arise from multiple sources including land conversion for development, storm damages, lack of tree replacement as older trees die, and for coastal cities, inundation from Sea Level Rise. Many localities have not evaluated their current tree canopy, which makes it difficult to track trends, assess losses or set goals to retain or restore canopy. In fact, Alabama has a high rate of tree loss. In a study of the biggest tree cover losses over a five-year period based on individual states, the greatest losses were seen in Alabama, Rhode Island, Georgia, Nebraska, and the District of Columbia (Nowak and Greenfield, 2018).
As a result of this project, Auburn now has baseline data against which to monitor canopy protection progress, measurements of the stormwater and water quality benefits provided by its urban forest, and locations for prioritizing canopy replanting.
This report includes findings and recommendations from tree canopy cover mapping and analysis, the process to model stormwater uptake by trees, a review of relevant city codes and ordinances, and citizen input and recommendations for the future of Auburn’s urban forest.
This is one of 12 case study reports produced by GIC for the Trees to Offset Stormwater Project.
You can view the Summary Report here.
You can learn more about this project on our Trees and Stormwater page here.